Uncontested: Student Government struggles with student participation

Emily Echevarria, Government Reporter

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Student government is one of the largest organizations on campus, and yet the Office of Elections recently announced that there would be uncontested elections for Senate for the second year in a row. 

Elections for senators are supposed to be held every November. But for the last two election cycles, there has been a lack of candidates. The Office of Elections attempted to increase student participation in elections this semester and yet was faced with another underwhelming election cycle. 

Election Commissioner Taylor Saunders spoke on the issue during a meeting of the University and Student Affairs Committee on Friday, Nov. 8, stating, “We were very bothered that the fall election wasn’t contested, and we’re trying our best to make sure the spring elections are contested.”

In an attempt to get to the root of the issue, Saunders submitted an Osprey Voice survey proposal to gauge student opinion on Student Government elections and to see what students actually know about Student Government. 

“Realistically,” Saunders said, “half the people on this campus don’t know what we do.” 

The USA Committee selected her proposal for the upcoming Osprey Voice in November. Senators debated questions to ask students throughout the meeting, such as “Have you ever wanted to get involved in Student Government?” and “Have you ever heard about the Office of Elections?”

Student Body President John Aloszka and Chief of Staff Ally Schneider also sat in on the meeting and offered their thoughts on student participation in elections. Schneider argued that the problem is campus-wide, stating, “Even people within Student Government don’t know how to get involved,” while Aloszka felt that “the real issue is that there are obstacles,” making it more difficult for those interested to actually participate. 

Some senators felt the issue was more to do with a lack of social media presence from Student Government, while Vice Chair Emily Jeffries commented that, “There’s a general apathy in the student body,” towards elections and the affairs of Student Government. 

Senators will continue to develop the survey over the coming weeks before it is offered for students to respond to. Saunders hopes that information gathered from the upcoming Osprey Voice will help to focus her office’s election campaigns and to increase student participation in both running for office and voting for candidates. 

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